Some relationships aren't built to last, but having kids together is forever.
"They have a very friendly relationship," a source told E! News of the exes last year.
And when they're home, living just blocks away from each other in New York, they have their routine down to a science.
"It's not tense at all," the source said, sharing that the pair do most of the dropping off and picking up at each other's homes themselves, no go-between necessary. "It's always extremely cordial."
None of which is surprising, an insider having told E! News right after they broke up that their No. 1 priority was keeping things amicable for Lea. "They hope to be able to do things together as a family and will raise her with both parents being very active and involved in her life together," the source shared.
Another source told E! News in March 2020 that Cooper and Shayk had both been working and traveling a lot, but they "have a good system in place for Lea and they take turns with her. They also come together as a family and do things when they can. They communicate a lot and are good friends."
Naturally, the source added, "They both love their daughter more than anything and they come together for her. They are getting along well and everything is very positive. It's still a transition period and they are trying to figure out how it's going to work going forward, but they are in a good place."
Days later, COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, New York shut down and parents all over the world had to get creative when it came to entertaining their kids. Cooper found himself with unexpected free time when production on his film Nightmare Alley was suspended in Toronto and didn't resume until September 2020, and Shayk similarly was grounded from her usual jet-setting ways.
Shayk's Instagram followers were convinced that they had a joint Halloween in October 2021 after recognizing what looked like Cooper's blue eyes peeking out through a gorilla mask in a snap she shared. And there was no mistaking who it was when they were spotted strolling in the West Village and taking Lea to a performance of The Nutcracker at Lincoln Center that November. After the ballet, the trio went to dinner at family-friendly Felice with Anne Hathaway and her husband, Adam Shulman.
When they're both in town, "They do things together pretty regularly," the first source told E! News. "When it's warm out they'll take [Lea] to the park. It's impressive to see."
But they also still enjoy kid-free outings, Shayk attending the premiere of the unmistakably R-rated Nightmare Alley, in which Cooper played a charlatan mentalist who gets in over his head when he tries to fleece a dangerous tycoon in 1930s-era New York. Talking to Entertainment Tonight, the actor called having Shayk there "very special."
When he first signed on to do the movie, "His life was very complicated logistically because he was trying to be bicoastal for many reasons, be in Los Angeles and New York at the same time," director Guillermo Del Toro told ET Canada of his leading man's schedule. "It was so complicated," Cooper thought it couldn't possibly be a good idea to do it, Del Toro said, but he quickly said yes to the compelling part nonetheless.
Those efforts to be bicoastal have also been key to his harmonious arrangement with Shayk, Cooper having moved to Manhattan with her in 2018—after she had uprooted her supermodel life to be with him in Los Angeles, where he was busily working on A Star Is Born for several years.
When that labor of love hit theaters in September 2018, marking his directorial debut, the Oscar-nominated actor credited becoming a dad with helping him be able to enjoy the moment more—a concept he'd always struggled with. He said on NPR's Morning Edition, "So I guess having a child, and having a family of my own—which is a miracle and something I've always dreamt of—has opened me up even more, I guess, to the day, and to be present."
The Leonard Bernstein biopic Maestro, Cooper's latest double-threat passion project, is set to premiere at the 2023 Venice International Film Festival (without its star in attendance due to the ongoing actors strike). But acting, and even directing, can't compare to where being Lea's dad ranks on his fulfillment list.
"Everything changed" when he became a dad, Cooper gushed on the June 13, 2022, episode of Will Arnett, Jason Bateman and Sean Hayes' Smartless podcast. "Every single thing is absolutely shaded by, or brought into glorious colors, by the fact that I get to be a father to a wonderful human being."
He continued, "You have this wonderful thing or breakthrough with a script, or you have a wonderful moment on this set or in an editing room...You have like 40 of those moments every day with your kid, that are that level of joy. That's not spinning it, that's just the truth."
Shayk echoed that sentiment to V Magazine last November, saying of motherhood, "I've never imagined that I would enjoy it and love it so much. I feel like there is no better kind of love for anyone in this world, but the love for your child. It's just very special."
And Cooper was a "full-on, hands-on dad—no nanny," Shayk told Highsnobiety in 2021. "Lea went on holiday with him for almost two weeks—I didn't call them once."
Maintaining her independence has always been important to the prolific model, whose father died when she was 14, leaving Shayk's mom, Olga (who moved in with her during lockdown to help out with Lea), and grandmothers to raise Irina and her older sister, Tatiana.
"We never had men around," Shayk recalled to Harper's Bazaar in 2019. "You have to learn how to put a nail in the wall, how to hang the curtains. I know everything about how to plant potatoes and cucumbers because in Russia, it's how you survive the winter."
She told E! News at an October 2018 event in New York, "I think now a woman has the freedom to work and to be a mom and to be herself. I think it's really important to remember that a woman is the strongest one and that if we want we can manage everything at the same time.
"And it's really important to just be yourself and just remember who you are and manage everything, because we can manage everything if we want to."
Shayk is also intentionally setting an example for Lea, wanting the child to notice the connection between work and getting to live one's life as she sees fit.
"I remember one day my daughter came back from kindergarten and she goes 'Oh, you're going to work? I want you to stay,'" Shayk told V. "And she starts crying and I said 'Do you see that we have lights on in the house and we have food [on the table]? That's why Mommy and Daddy have to go to work.' I want to raise a woman and teach her how my grandmother and my mother taught me, where you have to work hard."
The face of Fendi told Highsnobiety that she maintained her beauty routine during the height of the pandemic even when she was just running errands or taking Lea to school, saying, "You can't leave your house with dirty nails and dirty hair—even though I really want to sometimes. But during lockdown, we had no red carpets. I was like, 'I've got to make school runs fun.'"
And she knows that looking like herself attracts attention, whether she's alone or with rumored romantic interest Tom Brady, but she and Cooper long ago had The Talk (about people wanting to take pictures of them, that is) with their daughter.
"Sometimes my daughter is scared—she sees the paparazzi from miles away. She's a KGB baby," Shayk quipped, invoking the surveillance state in her native Russia. "We had to explain to her, like, 'They're just doing their job. By selling pictures, they make their living. You don't have to be scared.'"
But she's let it be known she isn't going to aid in any efforts to make her daughter's face famous. Despite her rare inclusion of a mysterious pal in a gorilla mask on Halloween, her Instagram primarily remains a fashion-only zone to show off what she's working on (or wearing, or putting on her impossibly dewy, sun-kissed skin, etc.).
And Lea doesn't care much about the super-glam version of Shayk anyway, the face of luxury label Self-Portrait telling Elle, "I have this huge picture that [photographer] Peter Lindbergh gave me on my wall. She'll always joke, 'I want this mama, I don't want this mama,' pointing at the picture, and we laugh about it."
The vigilance regarding their daughter's privacy extends to each other as well, with Cooper being loath to discuss his personal life even when he and Shayk were together ("I don't necessarily see the upside of it," he told the New York Times in 2018) and Shayk telling the Evening Standard, "That's why it's called a personal life, because it's mine."
In the March 2021 issue of Elle she said of Cooper, "My past relationship, it's something that belongs to me, and it's private." She added, "It's just a piece of my inner self that I don't want to give away."
Besides, they're very much still in each other's lives now—and Shayk doesn't even get the term "co-parenting."
"When I'm with my daughter, I'm 100 percent a mother," she explained, "and when she's with her dad, he's 100 percent her dad. Co-parenting is parenting."
(Originally published Jan. 6, 2022, at 4 a.m. PT)